Which have trained for longer?
Which are at more day-to-day risk?
Which get paid more?
In the pay equity debates we tend to focus on the argument about the effect and value of child raising, perhaps because it’s a handy dead end. In fact, however, the gender pay gap exists between whole professions: why are police officers paid so much more than nurses? There are plenty of other examples of pairs of equally trained equally skilled professions where female dominated one is paid significantly less than the male dominated one.
There’s a straight forward gender pay equity issue, but also questions of how we value women (why is the kinds of things women do worth less than the things men do?). By extension there is a question about why we value professions which care for people lower than professions that care for things, as that tends to be the gender split in professions as well.
But to come back to original question, is it right that we pay nurses significantly less than police officers and, if so, why?
[For a broader discussion of pay equity, try Julie’s Pay Equity Hub at The Hand Mirror or Queen of Thorns who’s hosting the Down Under Feminists’ Carnival]
I think you’ll find it’s because of the danger the police could potentially have to deal with. How many nurses have to face an armed standoff? How many nurses are required to put their lives on the line?
Actually better yet, why do more women choose to be a nurse than a police officer?
I mean, come on. This whole pay parity between police and nurses is really quite ludicrous when you consider what’s reasonably expected of both professions in a given work day. You might as well compare teachers to doctors and say each should be getting the same pay.
I’m all for nurses being paid more, as I think they’re terribly and horribly underpaid and undervalued. But to imagine there’s some kind of pay parity argument to be made between two professions whose only common link is caring for or protecting the public is just utter and total nonsense.
Sorry for stating the obvious but while nursing may be female dominated there are significant numbers of male nurses ..just as there are significant numbers of female police officers.
I’m assuming that men and women in these respective professions are paid equitably ,intra-profession, which is worth consideration when suggesting discussing this issue.
\I think youâ€™ll find itâ€™s because of the danger the police could potentially have to deal with. How many nurses have to face an armed standoff? How many nurses are required to put their lives on the line?\
That’s a ridiculous comment. Plenty of nurses are put at physical risk every day in their jobs- be it in the emergency department with the drunks or angry family members, or be it from the physical risks associated with some of the tasks performed in the health environment.
Police and nurses should probably be paid equally, and both should be paid more.
There is a significant impact that the union which represents each of these professions in NZ, plays. The populations and demographics of these populations are also vastly different, and the consequences of shortages are seen in very different ways- hence the impetus to appease the workforce, and resultant relative pay inequity.
Actually there is evidence that there is pay inequality within the professions as well as between them. I’ve had to use overseas stats but a US study in 2001 found that on average female nurses earned 87.9% of male nurses’ salaries. An Australian Police Federation submission on gender pay equity which which finds women constables are paid slightly less than male constables (adjusted for hours of work etc) and that women are disproportionately represented at lower ranks (and therefore lower pay rates).
So female dominated professions are paid less than equivalent male dominated professions and men are still paid more than women in both male and female dominated professions.
The police are paid what they are because of the difficulty the police force have in recuting new staff. I know of an ex cop who left the police after about 5 years, he reckons he wouldnt go back for twice the pay. He took about a 15k pay cut, but he’s happy that he knows hes going to be home safe & sound with his family at night.
To compare the dangers nurses face on the job to what police face is a joke. How many nurses have been murdered on the job in the past year, I know two police officers have been.
I’ve also dated nurses years ago, after reading the listner article it looks like they get paid less than they did 10 to 15 years ago! I also seem to remember nurses getting extra allowances depending on where in the hospital they worked, what specalties they have trained for the hours and shifts they are on.
How about the nurses who have died of illnesses contracted through work (e.g. needle sticks) or the increased rates of a variety of diseases through workplace exposure which apply to nurses (leukaemia, for example)?
The standard answer that I’ve the most time for is that we want to pay police officers enough so that it is never worth them even considering taking a bribe.
If even the most junior police officer is paid a low amount, they will be much more likely to accept those small bribes – speeding … why don’t I just pay you the $200 fine? Save you the paperwork and me the demerits. And once it starts, where does is stop?
Even the smallest amount of corruption is worth paying to avoid. Do I care if a nurse might be slightly more tempted to sell hospital painkillers on the side to make a little more money – yes, but not nearly as much as I want a non-corrupt police force.
It is also interesting that it’s nurses and police officers who have been chosen.
If it was nurses and infantry soldiers, you’d come to a different result. Is it right that nurses are paid more than infantry soldiers, and if so, why?
Are you honestly trying to say that nurses face the same kind of danger, potential or realised, as police officers? Are you really?
How about nurses and teachers, then?
How about teachers and social workers?
I think you missed the communist party by about 40 years.
Nurses and Police officers (whether male or female):
Which are more likely to be killed in the line of duty?
Which are more likely to find themselves completely on their own and totally responsible for the outcome of a serious incident?
Which are more likely to have to make a snap decision on whether to kill someone and then be held accountable for it?
Which are paid more? Er, sounds about right.
Graeme Edgeler writes,
I’ve never seen that argued in NZ (although that may be lack of noticing on my part :). How do they calculate the threshold?
Psycho Milt writes,
Which are more likely to be killed by workplace incidents? Probably nurses due to workplace injury, contagion and contamination.
Which make more life-or-death decisions? Probably nurses.
Neither should be making decisions alone (both exist within a procedural framework), neither are held entirely responsible for bad outcomes of their choices (in both cases most responsibility is held by their employer).
I’m saying that nurses face equivalent-but-different danger to the danger faced by police officers.
If you were to argue that pay should be based on direct danger you’d need to argue that forestry, fishing and meatworks employees should be paid way more than police and nurses.
ACC levy tables for 2009-2010, the proposed rates for nurses in community and residential services ($1.10) and hospitals ($0.52) are higher than police ($0.50). So ACC thinks that police is a safer occupation that hospital, community or residential services nursing.
Forestry is $3.08, fishing $3.56, meat processing $3.95.
Because the police are there to protect the state, the state has to keep them sweet. Nurses are optional – if there aren’t enough nurses in the public health system, people will die, but the government (who have private healthcare) will be just fine.
Police protect the state but nurses only protect people? :)
Stephen Franks, I think. Certainly it’s not argued a lot, but that’s likely because most of the arguments centres over the police vs nurse comparison, and whether it is a sensible one for the other reasons canvassed above.
Like I say, if you were comparing nurses with soldiers, you’d have a very different argument (and result).
Threshold? I really don’t know how they calculate it, although I do know similar arguments are made in respect of other positions – judges, for example (who are paid quite a bit more than police officers).
Speaking of other comparisons, I’ve just had a look at the:
Do you really think retail sales assistant or cafe worker vs. engineer or electrician is a good comparison?
You cannot compare nursing and Policing. They are TWO totally different jobs. I am a feminist, and believe in pay equity, yet I strongly believe that Policing is a job worthy of it’s 50K starting rate. Perhaps nursing is also worthy of a 50K starting rate, considering what Doctors are paid, but I believe that policing is a far more dangerous job than nursing, how many modern-day nurses do you know of who have died in the line of duty, while simply carrying out their day-to-day tasks? Perhaps this goes someway towards explaining why Police are generally paid more/start on more.
Nursing and policing are similar in that there is a huge amount of emotional commitment to the work, there are personal/public risks involved, you are on the frontline dealing with people, and you are often responsible of helping or fixing people on the scrap heap of society. However, I do not accept the view that police don’t help/protect individual people. Of course they do. What an ignorant thing to suggest.
Generally speaking, Police women and men have pay parity, with an equal starting rate. If this werenâ€™t the case, then perhaps a post to that effect would have some weight. But comparing what police officers are paid and what nurses are paid is completely erroneous, considering how totally different these occupations are. I agree that nurses aren’t paid enough, but comparing their pay rates with Police pay rates does nothing to illustrate the gendered pay inequity that is clearly prevalent across all female dominated work areas.
Perhaps another thing to consider when drawing the above comparison is that people love to love nurses, and equally love to hate cops. What police do is often a thankless task. At least nurses, by and large, aren’t treated like the scum of the earth, for simply doing their job.
Dean you are missing the point when you suggest new pairs to compare – as you are suggesting comparing two female-dominated professions against each other.
Anita thank you for writing about this part of the issue, it frustrates me no end that people just go “oh it’s cos women take time out to have kids” and that’s the end of their thought process. Why is it usually women that take time out to care for children (or other family members)? For many families the choice of who stays home is based in the first place on who earns less.
There’s a big difference between going to work in a risky workplace and being the person obliged to confront the violent criminal and deal with him. I’d certainly want a lot more money for the second one.
Again, I think there’s a big difference between potentially having to make decisions where a mistake could cause death, and potentially having to kill a fellow human and be held accountable for doing it. The fact is, responsibility and accountability are worth money – how often are individual nurses solely responsible and accountable for the outcome of a serious situation? (A genuine question, not a rhetorical one.)
The thing is, we say that because that’s the kind of thing that’s causing these statistical differences. By all means address that issue, it seems to me that it’s at the heart of this pay equity stuff – but it would be helpful not to frame it in terms like “CYF paying women 9% less” or “nurses paid less than police,” which are relatively easily dismissed.
Surely they are far from easily dismissed if you simply wonder why?
People are asserting that police have an especially dangerous job, but I can’t actually find any statistics to back this up.
Can anyone find such stats?
Nursing also involves many hazards, but staff are typically very aware of the need to mitigate these and probably have a lower injury rate as a result of this. Are they being penalised for doing a good job on safety?
Unfortunately your ACC levy stats are a bit off. Police use CRM, through the ACC Partnership Programme (Accredited Employers)to manage work-place health and safety, injurys and rehabilitation as well as managing all claims made. Police pay CRM to handle these areas independant from ACC, although CRM do work to the same framework/legislation that ACC do, without dealing directly WITH them. Therefore, the difference in levies doesn’t actually represent the risks/costs associated with work-place accidents/events/situations/scenarios for Police, as it is all done independantly, funded by Police, so that they do not have to go through ACC. Because Police cover the costs, and CRM run things relatively removed from ACC (they may refer a case to ACC if it is highly complex), the levy difference you quoted between nurses and police, doesn’t accuratly support the point you were trying to make. The only thing Police actually use ACC for, is personal injury, outside of work.
The thing is, the ‘why’ part often seems to be coming a distant second to puffed-up outrage over the evil patriarchy short-changing women. That outrage is easily dismissed by anyone who knows the difference between a statistical average and the individual situations that make up that average. If the focus shifted from outrage to analysing the ‘why,’ it would be a lot harder to dismiss.
So: why is it always women taking time out to look after children? Why is it women putting their partner’s career first? Why are capable women not putting themselves forward for promotion? Those are the things that are creating these different statistical averages, so it’s those that need addressing. And they’re all about the home and the relationships between the individuals in it – how can they be addressed by demanding the govt do something about it?
That’s for a couple of reasons:
– firstly, the attitude of the police antagonises people. If they were better at their job (at all levels) then maybe people would appreciate them more.
– secondly, the state expects the police to enforce a range of laws which, for various reasons, are not accepted by large, overlapping groups in society:
= drug laws
= road traffic enforcement
= alcohol bans and other public order laws
= suppression and monitoring of political protest
Maybe, rather than paying the police “shit job money”, we considered how to change their relationship with society, things would work out better.
PM, have to run, but I agree about your why questions. Back later I hope. Because I disagree that Govt cannot help address them. Especially as it is a large employer itself.
Are you sure that the Police being an accredited employer alters their levies in that table? The table is by occupational classes not by employer so I think the displayed rate is what the Police would pay if they were to switch back to ACC.
From the ACC website:
â€œACCâ€™s Partnership Programme is a self-insurance option for organisations with their own injury management and rehabilitation capability and sufficient financial resources to deal with work injuries to their own employees. These organisations pay medical treatment and rehabilitation costs as well as entitlements like weekly compensation on ACCâ€™s behalf. When standard employers and self-employed represent a small proportion of the total workforce in a levy risk group the earnings and claim cost data from Partnership Programme employers are included for levy setting purposes.â€
This suggests to me that the Police levy is â€˜discountedâ€™ or lower because of their use of CRM. So yes, being an accredited employer, the Police do receive lower ACC levies.
I’m pretty sure it means the opposite :) It says that when they calculate the occupational class levy they include both the claims data from ACC _and_ the partnership programme employers. So the levies are calculated on the full claim history of both ACC and partnership employers.
Also, remember that it’s occupational class based not employer based. So if your argument was correct the levies in any class which was partly ACC and partly partnership would be lower for the ACC employers, which is obviously wrong.
Soldiers are a vastly different case to either nurses or police because they have periods of extremely high danger, (when they are deployed in an active conflict) and periods of relative occupational safety. (when they are not deployed at all) Aren’t you trying to pass the whole job off as the more risky of those situations in your comparison?
This is important for a variety of reasons, but as professions where representations shift between genders respond with increased or decreased pay, it’s not a solution to the issue on its own. :)
(A good example is that secretaries are paid less in real terms now that the profession is dominated by women)
bottom line, Its much more difficult to get the right sort of people who want to be police officers than the right sort of people who want to be nurses, therefore the police pay rate will be higher to attract the right candidates. One of the factors in determining pay rates is how low can you go and still attract the right people to do the job. This may not be fair, but life is not fair.
Policing is a much more hazardous occupation than nursing, sure nurses may be exposed to some nasty diseases, may on occasion have to deal with difficult, drunk, drugged people in the casualty department nurses also have security guards and it is nothing compared with what the police have to deal with.
Comparing (and exaggerating) the dangers that nurses face with the dangers that the police face just opens up nurses to ridicule. Sure nurses should be paid more, I should be paid more! Most people work hard for what they earn, most people probably deserve to be paid more. If you are not happy with what you are paid work somewhere else, change occupations if you like however if you are a nurse, chances are you wont get paid any more.
ari – most secretaries and PA’s these days are glorified admin assistants and receptionists.
That is IMHO the first good argument so far :) Although, from memory, the Police have been lowering their entry standards rather than raising pay to increase recruitment. Have they been using pay or conditions to retain?
As the ACC occupational levies I link to above show, from the claim histories ACC’s math says that hospital, community and residential nurses have worse injury rates than police. Given that fact, why is there a general perception that policing is more dangerous?
Can I hypothesise that we value manly danger higher than womanly danger?
Is being vomited on by a drunk on the street more “dangerous” than being vomited on by a patient?
The other reason soldiers are not a good comparison is the education/skill/qualification comparison. We pay for qualifications and education, so soldiers aren’t a good comparison for nurses or police. Being a nurse requires more education and qualification than being a police officer, being a police officer requires way more than being a soldier.
anita – We do not pay for qualifications and education, that is a myth, ask any grad who is still flipping burgers or fitting shoes at hannahs being paid the same as a high school leaver with no qualifications. We pay for the ability to do the job, qualifications and education only get you an interview. As for ACC there is an element of self insurance for the Police, Armed forces and prison service due to the nature of the risks they face, ACC pay for an accident ie a cop injured rushing to get the last donut, the police insurance pays if the cop is bashed by a crim.
My (rather prosaic) theory is that there are a lot more nurses than there are police officers, so its a lot easier for the police union to win pay rises off the government because its easier to find room for it in the budget.
As student_still quotes up-thread ACC calculates the levy by including all claims including those paid by the Police directly (nb the Police can’t use an insurer to cover their liability, the partnership programme requires that the organisation pay the claims directly).
I don’t think it’s a good argument. All it demonstrates is that those more likely to become nurses (case in point: women) have fewer good alternatives to choose from and are therefore more likely to settle for less. Formally: those for whom the employment market is weaker are more likely to become nurses than police officers.
It’s an argument for Anita’s case, but not for Terry’s.
Yep, it’s a good “why?”, it’s also a why which shows how deeply the tentacles of gender biased pay inequity are entangled in our society :)
This is such a dumb comparison.
I have great optimism you’re about to tell us why.
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I don’t understand why there’s this debate, if some nurses want to be paid the same rates as police officers they should become police officers. Then this sudden influx of candidates would push down the pay rate for police officers while the simultaneous sudden cronic nurse shortage that resulted would push up nurses pay!
Oh, I forgot, you’d have to introduce that nasty free market for this to work properly.
The problem is that women have unequal access to the employment market because women are less-highly valued by society. Characteristics preferred (not necessarily required) by those hiring for certain jobs (mostly better-paid, more prestigious, etc.) are often those more common to men than to women; and that, given two equal candidates, the male tends to be chosen for the job, or the more senior job, or the promotion, or whatever.
You can’t solve this problem from within the laissez-faire market, since if the market were perfectly rational the problem wouldn’t exist and the best people would always get the jobs. It is a function of the culture which surrounds the employment market, which makes the market biased against women and therefore less rational. The culture surrounding the market and influencing its operation is what needs to change, to allow the market to work more effectively. A change made to the market, for example by enforcing equal pay for equal work, or enforcing parity across equivalent jobs dominated by men and women (not that I’m convinced the case in point is) will have a feedback effect, promoting the general value of women and traditionally women’s occupations in society, thereby reducing the impact of the bias on the market.
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I can understand (and fully agree with) your abhorrence that nursing remains a gendered profession, and the pay nurses receive reiterates what we already know about the pay scales in ALL female dominated professions, that women are under-valued as workers (lets not even get into the complex issue of giving birth and child rearing in terms of ‘work’ and ‘value’ – waaaaaay too complicated).
BUT you CANNOT compare Policing to Nursing to support your argument that nurses aren’t paid enough. Comparing the two occupations wrongly suggests that they are similar enough to be comparable in the first place, which they are not. It would be just as far-fetched if you were to compare two female dominated professions, like prostitution and nursing. The pay between the two is quite different, but the jobs are totally different also, to the point that they can’t be compared. (Granted, prostitutes are not paid by the government, but you get the idea).
I think you’re just trying to dichotomise everything:
Police – men, Nurses – women
Police – generously paid, Nurses – underpaid
Policing – not as dangerous as people think, Nursing – more dangerous than people realise.
Police – bad, Nurses – good
Terry and myself are correct about the self-insurance thing. I work closely with Police, and have been told by all the people knowledgeable on the subject, that this IS the reason that ACC levies are lower for Police, and I don’t quite get your argument otherwise.
Actually I think police are underpaid. Just less underpaid than nurses ;-) As for police being bad and nurses being good I think there are a lot of good police out there (a family member of mine is in the force in fact) and there are probably some bad nurses too. It’s not a moral judgement about all nurses or all police, it’s a query about whether their work is comparable for salary purposes. Your answer to that query is clearly no. Mine is maybe.
If we go back to Anita’s original questions we find:
Which have trained for longer?
Nurses. And they have to pay the fees for the courses, whereas police do not.
Which are at more day-to-day risk?
Arguable (and much of this thread has focused on this already). Certainly they are both dangerous, difficult, skilled jobs. Can we really put one significantly above the other?
student_still, glad to see you identify as a feminist. Can I shamelessly blogwhore and suggest you check out The Hand Mirror ? (I think if you click on my name it’ll take you through)
I already check out The Hand Mirror regularly. Some interesting stuff over there, I always find that when I head over you guys have picked up on a lot of the same random little bits and pieces that I do, (like the stripper alarm clock in the Jaycar brochure from yesterday)It is good to have blogs out there that I can relate to!
I agree that the individual/personal investment in the Police Training Programme is short, relative to Police pay and benefits they receive upon graduating and entering the workforce.
Not only is their training and all it entails free, they get PAID while they are at the college (Plus they get free health insurance among other things). If you’ve ever been to the Police College, it is an AMAZING campus. Recruits get everything from a full sized swimming pool, to a large library, to their own bar, cafe and hairdressing salon. A lot of this would of course be user-pays, and you could argue that Police need every one of these facilities on-site because they are training there non-stop for 4 months, and are not really able to come and go from the college as they please.
I remember, in an induction speech that I sat in on at the college once, a speaker addressing the new intake of recruits said something along the lines of ‘now, I know a lot of you are taking a pay cut to be here…’. This was a foreign concept to me, as I was a poor scummy university student, and I was never paid a salary while I trained, what a ridiculous idea!
Personally, I don’t see the need to pay recruits while they are at the college. Keep all the services and training free, but surely these ‘half’ salaries could be put to better use elsewhere in the public sector?
Maybe I’m just bitter about my Student Loan…
Both policemen and women and female and male nurses should be paid appropriately, according to the value of their professions, the huge need of the community, and the risks and necessities involved
But paid the same because the gender of the persons in one profession may exceed the gender of those int he other profession? Policing and nursing bear no relationship to each other, either in the nature of the work, nor in the training periods required. The whole “we should pay nurses the same we pay police” thing was a nursing union thing, and why? no reason
Pay PEOPLE what they are worth to your society
If you don’t pay them enough they will not be available to your society anymore, be they men or women.
We have both policing shortages and nurses shortages. There is a lesson there…
I shall write to ACC and find out :) More news when it comes to hand.
Good luck Anita :)
I work with someone who told me when they had to deal with ACC in a previous job, the end result (out of sheer frustration) was them having to go down to the Government Bookshop, buy the legislation, ring ACC and guide them in how to do their job. Apparently the staff turn over there is so high that nobody ever knows what the bloody hell they are doing! Sorry if anyone here works for ACC
I’ve always found ACC extremely easy to deal with over OIAs, they’re one of my favorite agencies in fact :) OIAs are not always representative of client service of course.
I work with nurses and I work with the police
No doubt the police have the shit job. No doubt some aspects of nursing are shit, as in most professions. But nurses are pretty loved and appreciated as a population, and police are mostly given shit by everyone
But both should be paid appropriately for the work they do. I have no problem with both jobs being well paid, they are essential public services which as a society we should appreciate.
Does anyone have any changes they think I should make to this? I’ll send it first thing tomorrow.
Calculation and interpretation of ACC levies for the Police
In the document Proposed 2009/10 Work Levy Rates for each classification and risk group the proposed base rate for police (Levy Risk Group 724, Classification Unit 96310) is shown as $0.50. To what extent is that rate affected by the fact that the New Zealand Police is an ACC Partnership Programme employer?
I am trying to understand whether the rate for police can be used as a true comparison to the rates of other occupational classes to understand the relative level of injury (through the level of claim). To do so I need to know whether the use of a Partnership Programme arrangement reduces the base rate for an occupational class or whether the full level of claim (including that paid directly by the employer) is used to assess the base rate and the Partnership Programme only lowers the rate which is actually paid by the employer.
To facilitate the response to this request, if your staff have any questions or require any additional informationâ€¦
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Firstly let me point out I value the work nurses do for the public, they are good people doing a good job. Comparing it to policing in my opinion is a bit far fetched though…
Correct me if I am wrong, but my belief is that doctors make decisions like what a patient should be given, how much, how often etc. A nurse just has to have good oganisational skills to get the right medication in the right quantity at the right time. Whereas police officers on the beat often have to make split second decisions on their own.
When a patient presses their button for help they generally need their pillow fluffed or have reading glasses that are out of reached passed over whereas when the police are called on for help they generally have to apprehend the scum of society who are often willing to go out fighting… If nurses are called and it’s an actual emergency they administer first aid and call for a Doctor, which the police do in their jobs too (call for ambulance though)…